Less than 45% of 2013-14 applicants were accepted into medical school. So as the AMCAS application opens for submissions in less than a week (June 3), some of the more persistent applicants are preparing to go through the process for a second—even a third—time.
While having to reapply can surely be frustrating, consider this an opportunity to learn from your missteps and show your commitment to medicine. For those looking to reapply, improving your chances of matriculating may require you to simply reflect and react.
If you applied to medical school and were not admitted, some personal time for self-assessment is a must. Hopefully, you've taken time to thoroughly explore the profession, as to fully understand the special demands needed to be successful in medical school.
If you understand those demands and still want to get into medical school, the ability to look back and critique your approach is an important step. As difficult as it may seem, it's vital to be self-aware about where your application is lacking.
How can you improve your application if you don't know what exactly needs to be improved?
An honest self-assessment will guide you through the appropriate stages in strengthening your application's weaknesses. Consider the various different portions of the application and take a magnifying glass to each one. Here are some questions to consider, based on common problem areas:
- Could your MCAT score be higher?
- Should you enroll in a graduate or post-bacc program to strengthen your GPA and/or meet all the necessary premedical requirements?
- Could your interviews have been more effective?
- Do you lack significant volunteer and/or clinical experience?
- Could you write a stronger personal statement?
Your strategy moving forward lies in the answers to these questions, so taking a hard look now can mean a beneficial outcome later.
Some schools may even offer some sort of feedback, such as a file review. A file review is where the school, at the request of the applicant, reviews the application and details why they were not accepted. There may also be premed or undergraduate academic advisers at your undergraduate institution willing to help.
Just as some schools will help you reflect, some can help you moving forward. The MSU College of Human Medicine (CHM) Office of Admissions, for instance, offers a Self-Assessment Guide, which allows unsuccessful CHM applicants to meet with an admissions adviser upon submission. While our advisers cannot go over the details of your application or why you were not accepted, advisers will go over your self-assessment guide with you to develop a new direction.
For additional information, please see the AMCAS application webpage.
While we know this is not the most desirable position to be in, understand that plenty of medical students were reapplicants. It can be done.
However, do not make the mistake of reapplying with the same exact application unless you want to see the same results. Here are some actions you can take to strengthen your application, again, based on common problem areas.
An advantage of being a reapplicant is that you have more time to fit in additional experiences. This is especially important for those lacking a significant amount of exposure to clinical and/or research activities.
Yet even if you have a good amount of experiences, expanding your resume to some degree should be on the agenda. Schools expect to see both leadership and patient-related activities on your application so it helps to acquire more. Summer is right around the corner—a great time to volunteer.
More experiences can even help you write a stronger personal statement. Read on...
Reapplying to medical school means going through the whole process again, including the personal statement. As we've mentioned in past posts, the personal statement can potentially be a huge factor in deciding who receives an interview.
One of the things you do not want to do is submit the exact statement you submitted in the last cycle. Schools will know and see through an application that has not improved.
Instead, use this experience to differentiate your next personal statement from your last. Consider how being an unsuccessful applicant has changed your perspective. What have you learned? What are you doing to improve?
The personal statement offers a great opportunity to show your resilience as well as your ability to reflect.
While submitting your application early is important, it may be better to wait a bit if you feel you need more time to ensure your personal statement is as solid as can be.
It may be a good idea to review recent GPA and MCAT average ranges in order to see where you fall. If it is clear that your academic record was a contributing factor to you not getting accepted, take time to consider entering a graduate or post-baccalaureate program, especially if your profile was weak in the sciences.
Understanding in which percentiles your academic profile falls also gives you a guide to determine which schools' applicant pools you would be competitive in. Otherwise, strengthening your academic background before an official acceptance may take time.
If you received any interviews last cycle, chances are your academics may not be the main issue. So, without receiving any acceptances, you may need to work hard at sharpening your interview skills. This time around, you know what to expect.
Lastly, it may be worthwhile to think about your letters of recommendation. Consider your sources and decide whether to utilize the same people for this next round, as you'll need new letters. Make sure you do your best to use sources that can provide not only a positive recommendation, but a detailed one.
Patience is most certainly a virtue when it comes to medical school admissions. Many rejected applicants do not reapply so be aware that you can earn a lot of admiration from an admissions committee by combining an ability to reflect on your weaknesses with a drive to address them.
Persistence can go a long way.
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